KAUSWAGAN, LANAO DEL NORTE —– The National Housing Authority and the local government unit of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte launched Tuesday (November 24) the Balik Probinsiya Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program for ‘low income families’ who opt to move back to their province from the National Capital Region (NCR) and or other highly urbanized cities.
The NHA has given financial assistance of P25 million for the construction of 87 units of quadruplex houses inside the 6.3-hectare land in Barangay Tacub donated by the GN Power Kauswagan, a coal-fired power plant company based in the same barangay.
Housing Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario said some 100 units are targeted to be constructed. The LGU will spend for the 13 other units.
Each housing unit will have an average floor area of 30 square meter and an average lot area of 80 square meters. These houses will be finished in 200 calendar days from the start of work.
The BP2 Program in Lanao del Norte is called Bagong Pag-asa Organic Village because it also includes an organic garden. Kauswagan LGU has been advocating organic farming.
The BP2 is a long-term program of the government to decongest Metro Manila of migrants especially informal settlers who were drawn there in their search for economic opportunities.
NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalda, who is the executive director of BP2 Program, said beneficiaries of the project are those who voluntarily decided to return to the province after losing their job or other income because of the pandemic and other circumstances.
The beneficiaries also are those who are currently living in an unsafe dwelling in other regions and those who have direct exposure to health and safety risks and other environmental hazards.
According to Escalada, Lanao del Norte is one of the many provinces in the country “that signified bravely” the intention of accepting the BP2 Program.
“We chose Lanao del Norte as the pilot area of this project because of its readinesss to accept their returning residents during the pandemic. We chose Kauswagan (town) because of its agricultural productivity. Food is everywhere, according to Mayor (Rommel) Arnado, for as long as one will work hard,” Escalada said.
Arnado said they have already received more than 100,000 applicants from all over the country and more than 9,000 applicants are returning residents of Kauswagan.
“We have not chosen the final beneficiaries yet. We are screening them. The beneficiaries are not only limited to residents of Kauswagan but residents of the province of Lanao del Norte,” Arnado said.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the village is a microcosm of what they would like the Philippines to be, a well-organized people with one common objective and a target of reducing poverty and improving productivity.
“We will build here a community of about 200 families originally coming from urban centers living as informal settlers. They will come here, they will be provided with housing units, with one common livelihood activity,” he said.
According to him, the project management office of the Bahay Pag-asa Organic Village has already forged a marketing agreement with a private company to buy the organic chicken and vegetables that will be produced by the village.
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) undersecretary Benjo Santos said the agency is also providing beneficiaries income opportunities by giving them employment and or provide them businesses.
“We are not only building a community but we are also building lives here. The DOLE is giving a P20,000 grant to each individual as their start-up. If they apply as a group, the DOLE can give as much as P1 million,” Santos said in a press briefing after the launching ceremony.